One of Alf’s favourite people is unlikely to be mollified by news that bureaucrats have obliged Cadbury to change its chocolate labels in Europe.
In other words, the buggers make it hard to earn a buck regardless of your size and in which country you are operating.
European Union rules have forced the chocolate-maker to remove its “glass and a half” description from the back of Dairy Milk wrappers.
Each bar of Dairy Milk now advises consumers: “The equivalent of 426 ml of fresh liquid milk in every 227g of milk chocolate.”
The Bournville-based manufacturer has had to rethink its wrappers to conform to EU regulations, said company spokesman Tony Bilsborough.
But he denied reports the “glass and a half” slogan had been ditched. “The slogan continues,” he said. “It underpins everything we do with Dairy Milk.
“It was always used on the back of chocolate wrappers but it was an anomaly in many ways now we have gone metric. It was in danger of breaching EU laws on weights and measures.
“We started the process in 2008 – we took legal advice on that, we approached the local Trading Standards Office and they confirmed that that was the case. We have not dropped the slogan in other areas – it is what defines Dairy Milk.”
But Cadbury is bigger than Biddy, the Eketahuna cheese-maker who has fallen foul of the bloody bureaucrats in this country.
Brandishing their food safety rule book the buggers shut down her cheese-making business after it was featured on the TV series Country Calendar.
Pensioner Biddy Fraser-Davies, who owns three cows, has been making cheese on her farm, 20 minutes north of Masterton, for the past seven years, selling it to tourists and supplying several top-end restaurants and hotels including Wairarapa’s Countryman restaurant and four-star Copthorne Hotel and Resort.
On July 11 last year, the night her business, Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese, featured on the programme, she received an email from the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) saying she was breaking the law by not having a risk management plan.
She was entitled to be dismayed by this news, because she was paying a $100 a year licence fee to Tararua District Council’s environment health officer for annual inspections, which she believed was all she needed to do.
The NZFSA will tell you the district council’s inspection was an “unfortunate error on their part” because environmental health officers have no legal authority to approve farm dairies and cheesemaking operations under the Animal Products Act.
But why did the NZFSA visit Biddy several weeks after the TV show?
During the visit, she says, a staff member told her she was spotted on TV.
“He looked kind of embarrassed and said that a member of the investigation and compliance team is detailed to watch every Country Calendar programme.”
A NZFSA spokesperson told the Sunday Star-Times that it did not have staff monitoring media looking for non-compliances. “In this case, a staff member happened to be watching the programme.”
Biddy’s $20,000-a-year business has been charged $3500 in administration and auditing fees since her TV appearance.
Moreover, she was banned from selling cheese during a second inspection for not showing properly documented heat treatment records.
“I thought it would be all hunkydory and they would have a look through and say ‘Gosh, well done Biddy’, but it wasn’t like that at all.”
She reckons the ban is unfair, since independent auditors found no microbiological bugs in random samples of her cheese during two separate NZFSA-ordered tests in the past 12 months.
Ah, there might be no bugs there now.
But that doesn’t mean there will be none there next month – or next year.
The NZFSA’s spokesperson said there was potential in the cheese-making process to create conditions for bacterial growth that could make people sick – particularly pregnant women, frail elderly, and people with poor immunity – and the hazards were the same regardless of the size of the business.
Alf has gone out to bat for Biddy, who wants the Food Safety Bill changed to allow people with five or fewer lactating animals to be audited by councils.
She does not say she should not have a hygiene plan.
She does say the bureaucratic auditing and verifying could be done by local environmental health officers, “as has happened to me for the past seven years.”